(Information and photo supplied by Eric Patton)
In his 1981 memoir, Harding Lemay traces his personal and professional life through the eight years he spent as headwriter for the television soap opera, Another World (1971-79). During this period, affectionately known to fans as Another World's golden era, he took the program to its highest ratings and critical success by featuring adult, character-driven drama in place of more typical melodramatic plots seen on other soaps of the day.
Lemay's Another World was a story of ambition and discontent focusing on interal human conflict that came from the realities of the characters' lives. Misery was seldom thrust upon characters from sinister outside forces. Lemay endowed the Matthews, Cory, and Frame families with more than enough angst to make their own lives miserable. He successfully revived the idea of using a theme to guide the show; a practice that was popular on many early soaps and continued on several through the 1960s, but had lost favor by the early 70s. Lemay's theme for Another World was the struggle to get into that "other world," whatever that world might be. "The other world for the characters in Bay City," he described, "could be anything we (they) wanted it to be; an economic world for some, a social world for others, a romantic or psychological world for still others."
Fans of Another World will be engrossed by Lemay's tales of backstage conflict and on-stage excellence. He is as candid about his disdain for such popular actors as Val Dufour, Virginia Dwyer, George Reinholt, and Jacqueline Courtney as he is about his admiration for others like Victoria Wyndham, Beverlee McKinsey, Douglass Watson, and Beverly Penberthy. Long-term viewers will enjoy trying to figure out the identities of the numerous actors about whom he is more vague: What actor was fired for coming to work drunk? Who was dismissed for refusing to learn his lines? Who was the actor hired to woo Rachel away from Mac and why did Victoria Wyndham refuse to work in scenes with him?
Alternating from humor to despair, Lemay describes his reaction when first viewing Another World; his first meetings with executives from the show's sponsor, Procter & Gamble; and his humorous and frustrating encounters with the show's creator, Irna Phillips, who was hired as story consultant to "train" him. He details the sometimes controversial exits of many of the show's popular characters; Walter Curtin, Mary Matthews, Steven Frame, John Randolph, and Lenore Delaney, as well as the creation of others who carried the show in a new direction; Iris and Eliot Carrington, Mac Cory, and various members of the working class Frame and Perrini families. He shares his struggles as Another World became the first 60 minute, and later 90 minute, daytime drama. And while giving ample credit for the show's success to executive producer, Paul Rauch, he is forthright about their tenuous relationship.
Woven among the details of the lives of Bay City's residents are stories from the author's personal and family life which, on occasion, mirror those on the screen. Particular parallels are drawn from accounts of the Frame and Randolph families. Eight Years in Another World is not so much the story of a soap opera, but the story of a writer who penned a soap opera; a writer who fought up-hill battles to create serious human drama more literary than anything seen in daytime before or since; a writer who became nearly as obsessed with his creation as the audience for whom he first felt distaste.
Lemay accepts his portion of the blame for his discontent, for his acquiescence to the sponsor's demands for stronger plot, and for his own obsession with perfection which led him to write, near the end, four out of five 90 minute scripts each week. The book ends as Lemay resigns as headwriter for the show, exhausted and frustrated that Another World had begun to loose its uniqueness and was becoming, more and more, like other soaps.
Another World: 35th Anniversary Celebration
[Front cover: Alternate cover: ]
By Julie Poll (Harper Collins, 1999)
A coffee-table book for AW was looked on as a godsend to the fans when its development was announced in spring of 1998. It had begun to look like AW would be passed over completely when all the other soaps received a book and AW was left as the only long-term show without. If the decision hadn't been made to celebrate the 35th anniversary with a book, it would have been too late. AW struggled its last few years to hold onto its viewers, and now we know it has also been fighting the good fight to hang on long enough to give us a book to remember it by. The show succeeded, clinging to life for one extra year until the book was granted.
It's an attractive book, replete with great photos imaginatively laid out. The cover was a wise choice considering the unstable nature of the show's cast over the years. An earlier prototype, with the photos currently on the back cover, on the front, was wisely switched to the final version. Inside, the many full-page photos are a treat, especially as many are devoted to lesser-remembered characters. The (faithfully reproduced) script extracts provide wonderful flavor.
The opening section, devoted to a discussion of the hidden meaning of the show's epigram ("We do not live in this world alone...") seemed a pointless exercise. Though an insightful attempt to salute the past, it ultimately revealed how unmindful writers and producers have been of the show's history. Though Irna Phillips jammed her AW scripts with characters musing on that "other world" (really only two, Missy and Janet), the show never had an identifiable theme once she left in 1965. Stories from then on reflected the interests of each successive head writer. For example, Lemay told psychological stories that sprung from the clash of different personality types. His love of class conflict resulted in some stories that seemed to deal with a desire for another type of world, but that so-called search is so vague that it could (and does, in this section) refer to any story in the show's history. Laiman's claim that it justifies her Lumina story is proof enough that anything can be ascribed to the epigram. What emerges is that everyone (actor, producer, or writer) uses the theme to justify applying his own ideas, which as we've seen, has resulted in radically different on-screen interpretations, none of which attempts to maintain a thematic tradition.
John Kelly Genovese (a safe assumption as author of this section) did an incredible job summarizing thirty-four and half years of history in the first half of the book. The synopses weave virtually every major story the show has ever had into a seamless, enjoyable read. They not only describe but explain. They go beyond the major characters to give even the most minor of characters his place. Unlike the show, where they may fade away and simply never be seen again, characters' exodus from Bay City is explained. Genovese obviously has a deep feeling and appreciation for the show. For example, while many would have downplayed the character of Dru, Genovese rightly gives the "sly old fox" as fitting a send-off as he received on the show. The very early years are given a lavish amount of space, with all the plotlines (not many considering the habit of stretching out plots) fully described.
This section is not without its flaws. The choice of 1975 as the first year to be sectioned was logical as it was the advent of the sixty-minute episodes. But this sectioning, while standard and functional, too often lost its effectiveness by the leakage of events from one year to the next. It was understandably necessary for some story elements to be grouped together, thus bumping the chronology of events within a single year. But too often events were established in the wrong year entirely. Nicole was gone by June of 1984, but she isn't mentioned leaving town until the end of the 1985 section, which might leave some to wonder about her actions during the travails the Love family went trough that year.
Considering how wonderful the synopses otherwise are, and how detailed even the very early years are, it's hard to imagine how there could be so many mistakes. While many of the details are bang-on correct, and while forgiving the sweeping and sometimes dubious summations inherent in compacting stories, there are about fifty errors of fact (some just mildly annoying and others literally world shattering).
There was also a laissez-faire attitude toward the show's canon. It appears additional sources such as writer's bibles may have been used, as some of the details presented were never established on-screen, the only true source. For example, since the name of Olivia Matthews' mother was never mentioned on-screen, the source of the revelation that Olivia Delaney was her mother mystifies, not to mention contradicts the earlier statement that Olivia Delaney was barren.
The inclusion of Phillips' original backstory is very commendable, but the early years sections of the book are not accompanied by enough early photos. The available space in the 1960's synopses would have been better used by eliminating the duplication of photos of people like Pat, John, Lee, Walter, and Lenore in favor of at least one photo of Jim/Mary, Bill/Missy, Sam, and Liz.
AW's spin-off, "Somerset" is given a very respectable synopsis, but the brief description devoted to "Texas" (which admittedly ran for one-third "Somerset's" length) is only exacerbated by the horrendous choice of a large photo of Chris Bruno, who never appeared on "Texas," to symbolize AW's last spin-off.
The "Beyond Bay City" sidebars describing the exotic location sequences were a bit of fun alliteration. Though it was puzzling why some location photos, even described as such in the caption, did not have this subtitle. It might have been interesting to group all these photos into a section devoted to location scenes with a few others added.
The "Family Albums" provided actors with the opportunity to reflect on their characters. A fine idea, but the overwhelming reliance on only current actors severely weakened this section. Aside from a few brief lines by Lemay, the entire Frame family pages were plot details reproduced from the synopses. Even the Cory and Love/Hudson families, both with a healthy representation of current actors, needed to be similarly fleshed out. Mark Mortimer was tasked with describing the origins of a character he didn't originate. Reginald Love was given the dominant Love family photo (which rightfully belonged to Anna Stuart's Donna, who does not even appear), but John Considine wasn't summoned to explain his character.
Either a large number of actors who played characters in all families needed to be interviewed, or the entire section needed to be reshaped. Perhaps a combination of actor reflection (where available) and photos instead of rehashed plots. The section is after all titled "Family Albums," so it would have been nice to see more photos of members of the families as well as previous or later recasts. Symptomatic of the book as a whole, too much importance was placed on the current canvas. The Carlino "family" consists of a brother and sister (Paulina isn't a Carlino any more than Joe is a Cory) and did not warrant an inclusion in this section. Devoting three pages to the Burrells (who only came into force in 1997) smacks more of political correctness than anything else. The Harding/Mason/Todd triumvirate probably stands as the major black family of the show. As the Love and Hudson families were combined, we should have also seen the Ewing/Hobsons, and the Matthews/Randolphs, who were given precious little attention in this section, considering they were a dominant family during two-thirds of the show's run.
The Cass and Felicia section was a wonderful and fitting tribute. Schnetzer and Dano, who can always be counted on for a great interview, effortlessly combined history and commentary. Devoting this section to all their on-screen affairs also freed up space for different couples to appear in the following section, "Love Stories."
Alice and Steve rightfully kick off this next section, but that neither Courtney nor Reinholt was summoned to reminisce is puzzling and disappointing. The section was nicely laid out, with an analysis of Rachel and Carl following one of Rachel and Mac, and the end devoted to the loves of Jake and Vicky (with others and with each other). The popularity of Catlin and Sally was given its due despite that the popular pairing (Griffith and Keller) appeared for only little over a year back in the mid 1980's. Since Kelker-Kelly and Ferguson are credited with boosting the ratings and saving the show from cancellation back in the late 1980's, Amanda and Sam also deserved mention. The inclusion of Thomasina and Carter was a puzzler, but as the most popular young black couple they arguably deserve mention.
The inclusion of Joe and Paulina stuck out like a sore thumb next to all-time greats such as Vicky and Ryan, and Steve and Alice. Not initially a popular couple, they earned much of their popularity simply for having been together for so long through so much. The cause of their inclusion here seems the availability of the actors playing the roles. Joe Barbara is allowed to be as garrulous as he was in the Carlino family section. A much better choice would have been Bill and Missy, a very popular pairing that saved the show from the scrap heap in 1966. As it is, they didn't even warrant a photo in the book.
Overall, "Love Stories" repeated storyline information that was described satisfactorily in the synopses section. What was needed here was perspective, a discussion of what made these characters popular. Available opportunities weren't always taken. Victoria Wyndham has nothing to say in the Mac/Rachel section, and Sandra Ferguson barely touches on the Sam/Amanda relationship.
"Villains" didn't suffer from the problems plaguing "Family Albums" and "Love Stories." Charles Keating and Mark Pinter did a marvellous job providing color commentary on the illustrious careers of their fictional counterparts, as did the women, although too much space was devoted to rehash and not commentary in Beverlee McKinsey's section. The inclusion of Lila pandered to the current fans, as she was a villainess only for a year and a half and does not deserve to be on the same dais as mega-bitch Cecile. The section was brief and arguably attempted to assign one major villain/villainess to each decade (Iris for the 1970's, Carl and Cecile for the 1980's, and Grant and Lila for the 1990's). But the show's early years were given short shrift. Rachel and Liz (who more than hold their own against any villain) would have been the perfect choices to include as bad girls of the 1960's.
Rauch was the only former producer interviewed for the EP section, but this was understandable as his reign lasted a staggering twelve years, dwarfing the tenures of all other producers. This being so he certainly deserved a larger section than Goutman's, producer for only a few months by the time the book went to print.
Fortunately for the Head Writer section, many former head writers were members of the current writing team. Throughout the book, the Cullitons provided wonderful stories of the period in the mid 1980's when the show went through a creative renaissance and popularity resurgence. But it would have been interesting to have heard comments from Tom King (pictured on page 228) as he had the unenviable task of replacing Lemay in 1979. One question that perplexed many fans, what happened to Lemay's short-lived return as head writer in 1988, was posed but left unanswered.
The special episodes were given their own section, which was bewilderingly limited to Cass's anachronistic dreams. What about "A Valentine to Singles," the first special episodes which wove dance numbers and analyses of the contemporary dating scene? How about at least a brief mention of the all-male episode? What about "Summer Desire," the one and only prime-time AW episode? Also, space devoted to lengthy script extracts would have been better served with a cast list for each dream, showing who played who, and perhaps what all (not just the main figures) did.
Backstage and audition tales are always fun and this section was no exception. But again, it would have been nice to hear from actors who were no longer on the show. The quotes from ex-AW actors, Anne Heche and Carmen Ducan, may have been taken from soap publications, but the thought was nice.
The "Stars" sections confronted the difficulty of reshaping a boring list of names and dates into colorful prose, a difficulty it tackled admirably. The highlights of the actor's careers were blended with their AW roles, so that readers aren't just impressed by the names of actors who appeared on the show, but by their credentials as well. The division into "pre-fame stars," "guest stars," and "visiting singers" helped to settle the confusion of whether a star's fame occured pre- or post-AW. The addition of "homegrown talent" Dean Frame was interesting, but what should have been the whole point of his inclusion here (how his storyline explored the music business in-depth through his song writing and concerts) was almost totally ignored in favor of discussing the love triangle he took part in.
It would have been nice to hear from the all-time big stars who started their careers on AW, such as Ray Liotta, Morgan Freeman, and Anne Heche. Instead Susan Sullivan is required to ramble on about her attempts to find employment in California.
Also, the "Stars on AW" section is not and can never be complete. Discovery of a pre-fame celebrity appearance on a soap is often the result of chance: a face recognized on an old episode, or a name noticed on the under-five cast sheet memo. I've learned that an actor by the name of "Peter Weller" played an orderly in one episode in 1975, but have no way to ascertain if this was the same actor of "Robocop" fame. Matt Laurer and Sarah Botsford (of Canada's "E.N.G.") were "rediscovered" a couple months after the book's publication. As I do more research, the list will be bound to grow.
It was enjoyable to hear actors reflect on their "Awards." The passage of years has given many winners a different perspective on their accomplishment.
The book ends with some small loose-end sections. "Fanfare" consisted of mostly uninteresting "expert" opinions on AW fans, but "Fan Tales" shined as actors described the powerful effect they have had on the viewers. "In Memoriam" was a fitting tribute to the three most beloved actors no longer with us (though the book emulates the show's failure in not including Hugh Marlowe and Paul Stevens in this category). "Happy Anniversary!" was cluttered with useless quotes; its space would have been better served to accommodate additional anniversary pictures. As it was, there were too many from the 1990's (one of which, mistakenly labeled as from 1995, was repeated at the end of the book). The absence of the famous "90 minute" cast photo from 1979 was marked.
Which brings me to the cast list, my own contribution to the book. I was tasked with it at the very end of 1998 for submission in mid-January. I enthusiastically but admittedly foolishly suggested a "full date" list which would include not just the standard year dates but month and day. I was given the go-ahead, and I recruited two helpers to help me whip up my dream version. The end result was displeasing to the eye. The numerical month/day/year format was used, where known; much of the time, only the year or season was known. I submitted both versions of the cast list; Harper Collins opted to keep their series of soap books uniform and went with the "just years" version. At least the full-date version was put to good use in the star list on page 255.
As for who made the list, I had to operate blind as no one knew what size the final version could be or how many lines it could comprise. Fearful that some unknowing HC proofreader would chop out names willy-nilly to make it conform to size restrictions, I made up a "slag" list of names that could be removed from the list if need be. Further fearful my list was too big, I provided a second slag list of further names. To my (happy) amazement, not one name was removed from my list. In fact, it seems there was plenty of room left over. The original list submitted to me included dozens of day players I weeded out as my first order of work. Imagine my surprise when about twenty of them found their way into the book after all. It would have preferable to have a half-a-page blank than include these names, whom no one would remember and will only cause confusion. Boyd Hanes, for example, was the deputy who encountered Jake outside the Love lodge in February of 1998.
Further research on my part has disproved some of the dates, some long held to be canon. Bill left in 1969, for example, not 1968. A few dates were incorrectly transferred from my list. The distinction I made between the two Jeanne Ewings (referring to the baby as "Jeannie") was somehow replaced with listing them both as "baby." One mistake was my own though. Kevin Anderson joined in 1991, not 1992.
The list was fleshed out moderately after I passed it along: a couple coups (such as the names of Cora and Bert Gregory), and some extra minor characters (such as Quincy Stoner, a minor player in Wayne's con of Steve; and a "Dr. Francis X. McCurdy," of whom I have no knowledge whatsoever).
While about fifty mistakes appear in the synopses, just as many appear in the second half of the book. Many are way off base and will confound readers for years to come. Some of the facts are self-contradictory as two versions of events appear in different sections of the book. There are too many to mention, but one is left to wonder where on the earth the information that Donna and Nicole were not Reginald's natural children originated. It's almost as if someone was purposely feeding the author misinformation.
I loved the book on first reading, despite the many mistakes, but found it slipping in my favor the closer I examined it. Experts were used to strong advantage (me for the cast list and Genovese for the synopses), but were limited to their individual contributions. My offer to proof the book for mistakes was not taken despite that an expert of some sort was obviously needed during the final stages of development to correct the synopses and weed the cast list of the extraneous day players, among other things. My web site was relied on (my textual character guides and Intro/Exit files were enthusiastically harvested for extracts sprinkled throughout the second half of the book), but my expertise wasn't, excepting the penultimate cast list.
Symptomatic of the show itself, especially in its later years, the book downplays the past in favor of the present. Current cast members and management were interviewed, and photos of current actors were featured (did we really need three photos of Jensen Buchanan in the introduction?) at the expense of former actors. Although this and similar books are published as marketing devices for the shows, it is simply not a good business decision to gear the book toward the smallest audience the show has ever had. Technically, the book accomplishes what it sets out to do, but at its heart it lacks the passion for its subject that the viewers share.
The Ultimate Another World Trivia Book [ ]
By Gerard Waggett (Renaissance Books, 1999)
The Ultimate AW Trivia Book is the flip side to Julie Poll's lavish history book. Unauthorized, it couldn't interview stars or production staff, it didn't have the means to directly verify information, and as a rule it had to forego official photos in favor of paparazzi shots. But therein lies its strength. Not mandated to whitewash AW's ignominies, it was free to air "the other side of the story."
Yet despite this freedom, Ultimate's scandals seem to disappoint. They're all there, Reinholt's and RKK's setside antics, Grigg's relationship with John Wayne Bobbit, etc. The trouble is it's all stuff we've read before. With all-too-few exceptions, Ultimate tasks itself with simply reproducing information printed elsewhere. Thus, the book's gossip is more along the lines of "Remember when?" than "Did you know?"
Once readers realize and accept that Ultimate doesn't have any earth-shattering revelations, they can appreciate it for what it is: an "AW Best of Soap Books and Magazines." To make such a book worth buying, it needs to be exhaustive, and here Ultimate succeeds. There is a staggering amount of information, all deftly rewritten and neatly categorized. Yet there is a Catch-22 inherent in such a book. The bigger a fan of AW you are, the more interested you will be in this book. But the bigger a fan you are, the more you will already have read, and remembered, of the excerpted articles. You're likely to read the book with an air of superior detachment or even impatience waiting for a tidbit you didn't already know. You might even have a scrapbook of your own of clipped AW articles, causing you to imagine that you could have researched such a book yourself.
Conversely, if much of the book comes as a surprise, it might mean you're a relatively recent fan who would find most of the book uninteresting anyway as it deals with actors you have nothing invested in, or it may mean you never bothered to read the soap mags for the first-run printing of the info. With the latter, if you just never cared about gossip, then Ultimate holds nothing for you. If, however, you simply could never afford the cost to buy or the time to read the soap mags, then Ultimate could very well be the holy grail you've always dreamed of.
So, for the gossip-deprived AW fan, or even the knowledgeable fan who wants to fill out his knowledge, this book delivers an enjoyable collection of outtakes. An impressive number of actors are included, and the 60s and 70s have a healthy representation. Since the book's photos aren't studio publicity shots, most of them have never been seen before. The book's introduction offers a wonderful insight into the show's plights over the years.
Still, the early years didn't receive the research that the 80s and 90s did, as evidenced by the bibliography. A handful of books were the main source of earlier era info, while the plethora of more recent "Soap Opera *" issues provided large ground to reap. No vintage soap mags, such as Daytime TV or Afternoon TV, were used. This was disappointing. Their very appeal often lies in the anachronistic nature of their interviews, such as the megapopular AW star decrying "the homosexuals!" living in her neighborhood in a 1970s issue of ATV.
That being said, Ultimate still manages to please. Even the die-hard fan would be hard-pressed to have read or remembered every juicy bit of gossip that managed to find its way into print. There were enough new, forgotten, or overlooked facts to satisfy even a so-called expert like myself.
Ultimate has the firm foundation of a knowledgeable writer both enamored of AW's highs and justly critical of its lows. Mistakes are extremely few, and demonstrate more an imperfect proofreading than lack of dedication. Readers get the solid impression that the writer knew all the angles of the stories he told. However, while many yeardates were used, there was a tendency to use the vague "in the 1970s/1980s", or even no mention of dates at all, when in fact, the exact years were easily researched. This was particularly disappointing in the "Alumni Newsletter" chapter.
The last-minute editing to reflect the show's cancellation is appreciated, but unfortunately was botched. While the introduction and history chapters reflected the end of the show, other parts of the book talked about it as if it had a rosy future ahead of it. To read that Linda Dano has portrayed Felicia for sixteen years "and counting" on p. 81 brings with it a pang of remorse for the grieving fan.
The book suffers when it extends beyond the show itself and devotes page after page to the private lives of the actors, delving into details that have absolutely nothing to do with the show. What was needed to complement the print research into backstage stories was an expert who could detail onscreen trivialities. After all, would readers really prefer hearing about Colleen Dion's wedding woes, or would they have better enjoyed being told that Felicia's second husband Zane and fourth husband Lucas died on the same day (August 11th) and that Marley and Lorna were raped on the same day (October 25th)?
The danger in such a book is being at the mercy of faulty original reporting, or worse, a faulty source. One has to wonder if Nic Coster's boast that the first sixty-minute episode on 1/6/75 was Robert's wedding to Lenore is just an imperfect memory or a deliberate lie (Robert and Lenore were married in 1974 during a regular thirty-minute episode). But only a fraction of the false claims are easily disproved; as for the rest, only those in the know will really know if "the other side of the story" is true or complete.